[advert:mpu] I entered motherhood at 38 so I had been working full-time for 17 years – so before I went on maternity leave I thought of it as a 4 month paid holiday!
Day one of maternity leave I had cleaned out the cupboards and fridge, ‘filed’ all the baby clothes I had been given and done a month’s grocery shopping. Day two I had cooked for Britain and filled the freezer. Day Three I discovered coffee with friends and day-time TV! I was going to enjoy this!
After Charlotte came along ‘to return to work or not’ seemed so far away – 14 weeks is forever when you normally only have 2 weeks’ holiday. I was a bit like an Ostrich and deliberately didn’t think about going back. Then work called and asked me to go to Paris for a 2 day meeting 4 weeks before my maternity leave was up. That’s when it hit me – this is what it will be like when maternity leave comes to an end.
Every Mother is different – I never thought I would be the one that would cry every day at the thought of leaving Charlotte – then every day for 4 months when I did return. There was no way at 4 months Charlotte would miss me – it was me that would miss her.
The worst bit was the countdown to 8am when the child care arrived – hoping a reason would come up so you couldn’t leave, doing the lottery so you could quit, hoping Charlotte would be asleep so I didn’t see her with the Nanny. Walking to work I would be in tears where I did not want to leave her- the guilt was like a physical pain.
To start with it was the guilt of knowing I would be missing everything and the Nanny would get to cuddle my adorable baby all day, get to go to baby groups and swimming, go for walks with the pram – and I was earning the money to pay her. That every day I missed with her I would never get back.
Then the guilt changes when they start to miss you. Leaving your child when they are begging for you not to go is one of the worst experiences you can go through - you cannot describe it unless you have experienced it.
Now Charlotte loves Nursery and cannot wait to run in every morning – but when I see other Mothers having to leave their inconsolable children the tears still well up.
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